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The big squeeze

Rising taxes, rising costs, and the impact on the Whistler standard of living



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If the tax were applied this week, it would bring the gas price to more than $1.43 per litre. If the base fuel price were the same four years from now, it would be about $1.56 per litre, according to the government’s own estimates. On a 26-gallon (98 litre) tank, that’s an additional $12.75 per fill-up.

Some critics of the carbon tax suggest that the tax is ill-advised, given the huge impact already being felt in rural areas of the province. They argue that the skyrocketing cost of gas is already encouraging people to use less gas, and that the carbon tax is unnecessary given the fact that it is revenue neutral and will be offset by other tax cuts instead of being used to build a renewable energy infrastructure.

Of course driving isn’t the only option. There’s always the Whistler and Valley Express Transit System, a service funded jointly by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and BC Transit.

Buy a $50 monthly pass, use it exclusively for all your transport needs, and you could shave a good $150 off your monthly gas expenses. You can also claim it on your tax return, provided you keep the pass itself and the receipt.

Of course, relying solely on public transit requires you to weigh some important factors, namely cost against convenience. And the WAVE system can certainly leave something to be desired for commuters living far outside the Whistler Village.

Take Squamish residents for example. Those who work in Whistler only have four times a day each way to get to and from work in Whistler on public transit. In the morning you need to catch the Squamish commuter at either 6:15 a.m. or 6:35 a.m. if you’re leaving from the Squamish Chieftain centre. It’s also $5 per trip.

Getting home at the end of the day leaves you with two options on the transit commuter: 4:40 p.m. or 5:10 p.m. from the Gondola Transit Exchange. Bad idea, it would seem, to stay late for overtime unless you’re willing to take a Greyhound, an option that’s almost $10 each way.

B.C. Transit did not return a call for commentary on whether its fares would be increasing with the carbon tax. A spokesman for the B.C. Ministry of Finance said that all businesses and organizations using fossil fuels would be subject to it, and that includes B.C. Transit.